Joe Scheidler protesting outside the Palmer House [Photo by Matt Yonke]
The Pro-Life Action League was holding a protest of the North American Forum on Family Planning at Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton, hosted by Planned Parenthood and the Society for Family Planning—a huge, four day conference where the abortion industry’s elite, like Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and notorious late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart, came to see and be seen.
We were outside Chicago’s Palmer House hotel where the conference was being hosted with abortion victim photos and other signs when a woman walked out of the hotel and knelt on the sidewalk right next to League National Director Joe Scheidler, who was holding a poster depicting baby Malachi, aborted at 21 weeks.
Once she knelt down and, from the looks of it, started a voice recording on her phone, she began to pray one of the strangest four minutes of prayer I’ve ever heard.
Now, before we go any further, no matter how misinformed or inflammatory some of the things she says in this prayer are, I’d urge you to remember this woman first and foremost as a child of God in need of our prayers and help.
From the content of her prayer, it’s clear that she has some knowledge of Jesus, and we all need to pray that whatever seed of faith she has will be nurtured and grow until she can see the injustice she is committing against her unborn brothers and sisters.
Hypocrisy of “Judgment”
The most striking part about this prayer, other than the overweening thees and thous, is the hypocrisy in her conception of judgment.
It’s almost as if she read the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican and decided the Pharisee was the good guy! “Thank you, Lord, that I am not like these judgmental pro-lifers, whom I have judged to be wicked, and I’m sure you agree.”
She specifically tells the Lord that she is “incapable of judging anyone else’s heart and mind,” and yet a few long-winded clauses later, she asks for God to “touch the hearts of those that in their pride fail to have compassion and truly live the example of Christ and to love all, and to reserve judgement and to humble themselves before thee.”
I don’t feel I’m reaching too far to assume she means us, but how could she possibly know about our pride or lack of compassion or who we are and are not judging, when she admitted her fallibility in the heart-reading department a few paragraphs back?
Pray for Conversion without Judgment
But as strange and contradictory as her prayer may have been, I hope that what we as pro-lifers could learn from it is to pray for our opposition without impugning their motives or pretending we can read their hearts, which, as this abortionist correctly pointed out, we cannot know.
It hurts when she calls us judgmental or lacking in compassion. So when we pray for this abortionist—and everyone involved in the abortion industry, from the clients to the elite officials at Planned Parenthood—let’s be sure to leave off the judgment ourselves.
I’m reminded of the ancient Lenten prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian:
O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust for power and idle talk.
But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of integrity, humility, patience and love.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother.
For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages, Amen.
Let us strive to see our own faults when we pray, and be sure that our prayers, even for our worst enemies, are for their conversion and salvation, never for judgment or condemnation.